Student projects

Below we list potential student projects in RSES, with links to relevant supervisors and research groups. For a list of topics, research groups, and research projects in RSES, please see the research projects page

Experimental Petrology

The age and tectonic setting of basaltic intrusions of the south coast of NSW

The rocks of the Sydney Basin and Lachlan Fold Belt exposed along the south coast of NSW contain numerous basaltic (basalt and dolerite) intrusions (e.g. Bingie Bingie Point, Dolphin Point, Snake Bay, Long Reef, North Bondi).  The ages of these dykes and sills are unknown, however, they are assumed to be Tertiary...
Zircon (ZrSiO4) and monazite (CePO4) are common minor minerals in granites.  Although they are not abundant they are important because they are the host of many elements that are incompatible in the rock-forming minerals.  For example, the ability of zircon to incorporate U has made it the...


Seeking a suitably qualified student to participate in an extension of this distinctive experimental work.
Tectonics, dynamics and river systems
River systems hold information on tectonic history in their sediment load and their morphology. Coupled models of tectonics, topography and surface evolution help us to understand continental deformation patterns. This project uses state-of-the-art tools in models of collision, basin formation and plate boundaries.
Antarctic seismic stations
The recent over-ice seismic deployments in Antarctica provide datasets that enable exciting opportunities for seismological research. This project involves innovative development in passive seismology methods adapted for challenging icy conditions to unravel ice and solid Earth structure in Antarctica.
Some of the oldest continental building blocks (e.g. cratons) are found in Australia. At depth, the ancient rock record has invaluable information about the dynamics of the Earth. Seismology can provide remarkable views into the deep lithospheric structure using imaging techniques on broadband seismic data.
Seismology is much more than a study of earthquakes – in fact, it is a study of the propagation of seismic waves through the Earth and across its surface, but the sources of these waves can be tectonic, volcanic, glacial, atmospheric, oceanic, and man-made explosions, to mention only a few.
Geodynamics occupies a unique position in the solid Earth Sciences. It is primarily concerned with the dynamical processes affecting the Earth, both within its interior and at its surface, although it can also be applied to the interiors and surfaces of other terrestrial planets and their moons.
Project to analyse the pattern of seismic anisotropy beneath the continent utilising data from temporary broadband networks deployed across Australia
Himalayan Model
Congested subduction happens whenever buoyant material such as an oceanic plateau gets caught up on a moving plate and eventually arrives at a subduction zone. The buoyant material may be scraped off or subducted, but it always puts up a fight which leaves characteristic scars on the over-riding plate.
The objective of this ARC Linkage project with Geoscience Australia and GSWA is to provide a compilation of 3-D models of the crustal and lithospheric structure from new broadband data obtained with deployment of 25 seismometers in Southwest WA.
The base of the Lake George fault scarp defines the edge of the basin and previous surveys suggested the Quaternary fault zone extends at depth. A dense seismic array of 100 nodal seismometers were deployed in late 2020 in the northern section of the basin and collected continuous seismic recordings for ~1 month
The lowermost mantle sits atop the core-mantle boundary – the most dramatic boundary within our planet, with contrasts in physical properties that exceed those that exist at the surface. Despite significant progress, this region is not well understood, and global seismology paves the path towards new understanding.
Topographic map of Zealandia
Zealandia, the Earth’s hidden continent submerged in the southwest Pacific Ocean, is the youngest and thinnest geological continent in the world. Yet, how this continent is formed remains to be further explored, mostly due to a poor understanding of its sub-surface structure.

Improving tsunami warning systems: fast and reliable estimation of source parameters of large earthquakes using long period W-phase data

This project uses state-of-the-art computational tools to calculate seismic waveforms for large tsunamigenic earthquakes. It will assess how critical is the effect of 3D seismic velocity structure in determining earthquake parameters like focal mechanism and rupture area, which are crucial for improved tsunami warning.
Moment tensors in seismology provide a theoretical framework to understand physical mechanisms of earthquakes (how they are generated in their source); in fact, apart from tectonic and volcanic earthquakes, the same framework is used to characterise explosions, landslides, meteorite impacts and other phenomena.
Distributed acoustic sensing (DAS), an emerging technology in solid Earth geophysics, provides new avenue to perform array seismology by transforming a single fibre-optic cable into a continuous sensing element which can collect broadband data at ~1 metre-spacing.
Earth’s internal structure and processes, which cannot be observed directly, must be inferred from data that can be collected at (or above) Earth’s surface. Our research in Mathematical Geophysics at ANU attempts to address the question of `How to do this?' `How robust are the results? '.
Pore-water within a basin flows in response to supply, extraction, topography, and imposed pressure gradients. Changes to these parameters in complex, tectonically active basins require complex, 3D, coupled models to understand. This project is concerned with developing, testing and applying such models.
Seismic imaging of the Earth's mantle
We wish to understand the Earth’s internal structure and processes, but we cannot observe these directly: everything must be inferred from data that can be collected at (or above) Earth’s surface. This project explores novel mathematical and computational methods for solving these challenging problems.
Mantle convection is the `engine' that drives our dynamic Earth. It is the principal control on Earth's thermal, chemical and tectonic evolution. The mantle transition zone plays a critical role in this fundamental process, by controlling the passage of material between Earth's upper and lower mantle.
Groundwater storage is subject to climatic and anthropogenic forcing, but modern monitoring tools are not sufficient to capture its detailed response in both time and space. This project aims to develop an advanced seismic framework to sense subtle subsurface changes related to groundwater variations.
Subduction zones are the most prolific producers of seismic and volcanic activity on Earth, yet many aspects of the subduction factory remain poorly understood. Surrounded by plate boundaries Australia has a unique advantageous location for recording earthquakes originating from nearby subduction zones.